Practise safety in bear country
Manitoba Conservation and Water Stewardship is reminding people with homes, cottages or campsites to be safe in areas where black bears are present or likely to be present. Manitoba’s black bears are becoming more active and visible at this time of year as they begin to bulk up on food for hibernation.
People and businesses are encouraged to eliminate, seal or secure anything with a scent that may attract a bear. Garbage, bird feeders and fruit trees are the main reasons bears become habituated and eventually food-conditioned around people, which could lead to conflicts and become a safety issue for both people and bears.
Steps can be taken to reduce the chances of attracting bears to residences, cottages or campsites:
• never approach or feed a bear;
• because pets can attract bears, keep them on a leash or under control and do not let them run toward a bear;
• if possible, walk with other people;
• carry a noisemaker or bear spray repellent and know how to use it;
• feed pets indoors and keep their food dishes indoors;
• do not set up bird feeders between April and November;
• do not burn garbage;
• double bag garbage and place it in a bear-resistant container, secured building or fenced area being sure to seal it in a way that will not allow odours to escape; if a container can be pried open with a crow bar, it’s not bear proof;
• clean garbage containers regularly with bleach or ammonia to stop odours;
• take garbage with you when leaving your home or cottage, or ask a neighbour to put it out just prior to pickup;
• put garbage bags in the container just before garbage pickup, not the night before or exercise the option in some circumstances to freeze garbage in bags until pickup;
• do not compost any food items outdoors;
• clean and store barbecues after each use; and
• remove all ripened or fallen fruit in the morning and before dusk.
Taking steps to reduce conflicts with bears will also reduce conflicts with other wildlife such as coyotes, raccoons or skunks.
Bear spray is an excellent deterrent, but proper use should be learned; do not spray it on lawns or structures like tents or clothing as a repellent, as it might actually attract bears.
Bears are wild animals and must be respected. When in bear country, people should always assume bears are in the vicinity even if no recent sightings or problems have been reported.
If a bear is encountered, the first thing to remember is not to run. Assess the situation. In most cases, the bear will move away from you.
More information about bears is available at www.manitoba.ca/blackbear.